Oxytocin is associated with human trustworthiness

Horm Behav. 2005 Dec;48(5):522-7. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2005.07.009. Epub 2005 Aug 18.


Human beings exhibit substantial interpersonal trust-even with strangers. The neuroactive hormone oxytocin facilitates social recognition in animals, and we examine if oxytocin is related to trustworthiness between humans. This paper reports the results of an experiment to test this hypothesis, where trust and trustworthiness are measured using the sequential anonymous "trust game" with monetary payoffs. We find that oxytocin levels are higher in subjects who receive a monetary transfer that reflects an intention of trust relative to an unintentional monetary transfer of the same amount. In addition, higher oxytocin levels are associated with trustworthy behavior (the reciprocation of trust). Absent intentionality, both the oxytocin and behavioral responses are extinguished. We conclude that perceptions of intentions of trust affect levels of circulating oxytocin.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Decision Making
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Hormones / blood
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxytocin / blood
  • Oxytocin / physiology*
  • Social Behavior
  • Trust / psychology*


  • Hormones
  • Oxytocin